Gishwati-Mukura National Park

August 29, 2023 | Bujo Safaris

With the history of deforestation in the last 50 years, Rwanda’s fourth national park was created in February 2016 when the Rwandan Government passed a law to create a new national park combining the two forests of Gishwati and Mukura.

It should however be noted that after the Rwandan genocide, the two forests were almost destroyed due to encroachment and settlements. A big number of people running for their lives found home in the forests and decided to settle there and the forest lost much of its lush vegetation and several animals due to poaching. The Rwandan government has since stopped the illegal occupation and other illegal activities carried out in these forests. This shows the efforts the Rwandan government put into boosting the tourism sector in the country, hence one of the top tourist destinations in East and Central Africa at large.

The combined Gishwati and Mukura forests are situated between the Volcanoes National Park and Nyungwe National Park. The biggest Gishwati forest used to spread out to Uganda, Congo and Central Africa. This puts hope that the creation of the forest corridors to the Nyungwe and Gishwati will pave the way for the primates to come into the smaller Mukura forest that has no chimpanzees. 


The park comprises two forests that spread from the northern part of Rwanda nearing the volcanoes national park down to where it joins the two forests, the smaller Mukura and the larger one famously known as Gishwati forest. Not very far from Lake Kivu, the larger forest Gishwati is situated in the North western part of Rwanda. The park covers an area of about 13.2 square miles and it’s located in the districts of Rutsiro and Ngororero in western part of Rwanda.

The park hosts over 20 chimpanzees and surprisingly the rare golden monkeys, blue and L’Hoest’s monkeys with over 390 bird species about 160 at Mukura and over 230 bird species in the Gishwati forest. 


Nature walks and hiking in the park. 

The park authorities have simplified the easiest means of nature walks by establishing several and accessible trails to enable visitors to have a cool soothing feeling of nature’s beauty while they are also able to sight other forest inhabitants including chameleons, comely butterflies, several bird species, primates and insects.  

The quiet nature and forest sound blended with sweet beautiful bird sounds together with unseen primate vocals have always caught the attention of most of the visitors who are into quiet and solitude vibes. The park rangers and guiders will be providing informative knowledge about the park’s stunning vegetation for example the park homes over 60 tree species that include the famous Mahogany, eucalyptus, orchids, ferns and bamboos. 

Chimpanzees in the Gishwati Mukura National Park. 

Chimpanzee tracking is one of the most popular tourist activities in the park and soon the spot shall turn into the top chimpanzee tracking spot in Rwanda. There are also golden monkeys, baboons and blue monkeys in the park. Like all the other treks, chimpanzee tracking in Gishwati Mukura national park kicks off in the morning hours with the assistance of guiders and park rangers on how, where and what to do while tracking these chimpanzees in the park. 

Birds in the park. 

Gishwati Mukura National park homes about 82 bird species including the 15 rare species that are only found in the Albertine Rift hence the park offers one of the best birding experience in Rwanda. Several bird species will be sighted by the guests from Rwenzori Turaco, Weaver birds, Martial Eagle, Purple breasted sunbird, Mountain yellow warblers to the famous Grey crowned crane and strange birds. 


Since the park is located in between the Nyungwe National park and Volcanoes national park, visitors from the Volcanoes can access the park more easily by driving for about 27 kilometers to Gishwati National Park. Visitors from Uganda's Bwindi Impenetrable or Mgahinga national park can also access the park easily through public or private means of road transport. 

Time constrained visitors can opt to use flights from Kigali City that take about 45 minutes to the destination. The road from Kigali to the Gishwati national park is a 3-hour drive about 170 kilometers.

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